Welcome to my first ever instant review of Monday Night Raw. I’ve decided to change up the format from my Pay Per View review columns. The format is as follows.
I’ll be reviewing each hour of the show as its own entity. For each hour, I’ll tell you what I liked, what I didn’t like and provide an overall letter grade for the hour. I’ll wrap up with my overall thoughts on the show including a letter grade. Without further ado:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: An INSTANT review of Monday Night Raw (09-17-18)
What I liked:
One of the biggest reasons people wanted to see the Universal Title off of Brock Lesnar was because his extreme part-timer status didn’t allow for the belt to be defended on any type of regular basis. I really appreciated the fact that the WWE used the opening segment to announce a Universal Title Match for later in the show. Roman Reigns v Baron Corbin may not be the absolute most exciting match that the Raw brand can put forth, but I’m interested.
I absolutely LOVED that the WWE put Drew McIntyre over so strongly tonight. A 100% clean win over someone of Dean Ambrose’s ilk is a major achievement. Ambrose is bullet proof and doesn’t need to worry about wins and losses in matches like this. I feel that McIntyre can be a world champ and money-maker for the company, and this booking decision makes me think that the WWE feels the same way.
I enjoyed the backstage segment between Corbin, McIntyre and Ziggler. Corbin is a heel GM. It makes sense that he’d favor the heels and provide Ziggler with an IC title match against a weakened Seth Rollins. We’re 42 minutes into Raw and the two top titles have announced matches for the show. That’s a great sign.
Wow, the WWE is unloading every bullet in their chamber tonight aren’t they? A Ronda Rousey open challenge announced via backstage segment with her “friends”? This is lining up to be an unbelievable last two hours of Raw.
What I didn’t like:
I understand that the WWE business model has changed to the point where the Saudi Arabia shows are as important as any other event all year, but I hate the idea of sacrificing weekly television merely to hype an event that is a glorified house show. Hijacking a Pay Per View main event to announce a triple threat match for that event between Roman, Braun and Brock isn’t inspiring anyone. I was bored. The live crowd was bored. Everyone was bored.
Chad Gable v Ascension Jobber #1 did absolutely nothing for me. I’m perfectly fine with squash matches on my weekly wrestling, as they can be used to get people over. What I can’t stand is watching two guys with floundering and/or non-existent story lines squaring off for equally non-existent stakes. What was the purpose of this match? Were we supposed to care about an impending tag feud between Roode/Gable and The Ascension? Are we supposed to be invested in Chad Gable riding a not-over Bobby Roode’s coattails to “stardom”? It’s an emphatic NO on both counts.
Overall Hour 1 Grade:
B+. The WWE did a tremendous job of building anticipation for the rest of the show by announcing three title matches. Add in a solid television match and I can overlook the stupidity of the opening segment and the time-filler match. Not a bad start.
What I liked:
I enjoyed Bayley v Dana Brooke. It was short but it was well-wrestled. It’s surreal to see Bayley booked so strong. She’s always been in the underdog role, so to see her positioned as the physically dominant wrestler was odd. The strength of her victory gives me hope that she, as well as Sasha, will have prominent roles on the upcoming Evolution Pay Per View event. Time will tell.
I’m digging the pairing of Drake Maverick and AoP. They remind me of heel Spike Dudley acting as the mastermind behind The Dudley Boyz. AoP has a ton of size and a unique move set. A mouthpiece is what was needed and I’m glad that they found one. I’m perfectly ok with the continued squash matches. There isn’t room for them in the tag title picture at the current time, so it makes sense to build them up slowly.
Rock solid IC title between between Rollins and Ziggler. It wasn’t on par with some of their previous matches, but I really appreciate how they are constantly providing new variations to spots they did in earlier matches. Rollins’ curb stomp came out of nowhere tonight. It’s rare when a match ending catches me by surprise, so kudos to both men for that.
What I didn’t like:
Stop giving Seth Rollins a microphone. He’s done a tremendous job of rebuilding his career through his actions. There’s no need to remind us how much of a geek he really is.
Speaking of terrible promos, that Undertaker speech just kept dragging on….and on…..and on…..and on. I had to deal with ten minutes of inane rambling just for The Undertaker to announce that Kane will be in his corner. The crowd’s muted response tells me that I’m not alone in my thoughts here – NO ONE cares about Triple H v The Undertaker. If the WWE is banking on this to sell tickets in Australia, they are in trouble.
I’m heartless. I have no interest in the WWE pandering to their own charitable endeavors. It was less painful than last week’s parade of sick children, but when it’s sandwiched between two commercial breaks, it really makes the flow of the show drag. There has to be a better way to accomplish the company objective.
Overall Hour 2 Grade:
B-. There was strong wrestling this hour, but the WWE can’t have the biggest segment bomb and still get a superlative grade from me.
What I liked:
The segment between The Riot Squad, Rousey, Natalya and The Bella Twins was well done. I liked that the WWE let someone get the jump on Rousey to the point where she needed to be rescued. The Riot squad are clearly going to be fodder for Rousey and The Bella Twins at Super Showdown, but it’s a profile elevating spot for the group nonetheless.
The shenanigans that mercifully ended the match between Elias and Lashley were a lot of fun. Lio Rush has unique athleticism that jumps off the page. While it did nothing to further my interest in Kevin Owens v Lashley, it did pique my interest in seeing Rush perform on future episodes of 205 Live.
What I didn’t like:
Come on WWE! You can’t promise a women’s title match and then pull the rug out from under us. It doesn’t reward the viewers for continuing to tune in for an advertised match. The WWE could have easily gotten to the angle described above AFTER a successful title defense. Decisions of this nature are what alienate the fan base.
I love Elias. He’s a superstar waiting to happen. Every segment that he’s in turns to gold. His one liners on Lio Rush prior to his match with Lashley were hilarious. “Whose Kid is This?” had me rolling on the floor. The thing is, all of that momentum he builds during his segments just doesn’t carry over into the ring. As has been the case with just about every match he’s been involved in, I was bored by Elias’s match with Bobby Lashley. It was generic and largely devoid of heat. I don’t know how the WWE remedies this problem, but it should become a top priority for them to do so.
Nia Jax made her triumphant return this week! In other breaking news – absolutely no one cared! The tag between that saw Jax team with Ember Moon to take out Alicia Fuxxxxxxxx and Mickie James was uninspiring. This final hour has started to drag tremendously.
I’m a guy who believes that Roman Reigns is a top 15 wrestler all time, and a guy who has tirelessly advocated for a Baron Corbin world title run. All that said – I just couldn’t get into Reigns v Corbin tonight. Although I praised the WWE announcing the Universal Title match at the beginning of the show as a means to be hyped about Raw, but in the end I found myself resenting the fact that I had to stay awake and finish this review. That is the exact OPPOSITE reaction that the WWE would be hoping to get from the Universal Title Match announcement. This match couldn’t end fast enough. What a terrible end to Raw.
Overall Hour 3 Grade:
C-. The WWE hyped plenty and delivered on nothing. This was a major letdown based on the build from the previous two hours.
Final Show Grade:
This was a show that had so much potential. There were 3 announced title matches and a heavily hyped Undertaker segment. How could this show possibly have gone wrong? Apparently, very easily. Out of the four building blocks to the show, only Ziggler and Rollins delivered in any reasonable capacity. As such, Raw gets a grade of (C+) from me. This week was a lost opportunity.
That’s a wrap kids. Agree or disagree with my Raw review? You can follow me @The Eternal Optimist